decluttering my teenagers wardrobe


Decluttering with younger children was my experience when I started
minimalism 6 years back, but it’s not my situation anymore, those 9 and 11-year-old kids have grown beautifully into teenagers, 15 & 17 to be exact.

So I wanted to chat about older kids that are developing their own ideas and opinions about their clothing.

I want them to only have what they need.

But unfortuneatly that’s not always possible for teenagers, especially in their wardrobe.

They are becoming their own people and have their own likes and dislikes, especially how to manage their wardrobes.

But, this doesn’t always match what we as parents are prepared to buy or pay for.

I want their wardrobe to be manageable and easy to maintain, not being over the top, but I still want them to be able to be themselves and start owning wardrobe decisions.

So I wanted to talk about how we navigate this in our home and I think we have come to a very reasonable solution that has been successful for us.

Today I’m decluttering my teenage daughter’s wardrobe with her, this video of us shows you from beginning to end how we do it.

This process is very routine for us as we do this approximately every 3-4 months.

When I say declutter, we go through all of her clothing and decide what stays and what goes, and finally, what she needs. Usually, we declutter at the change of season OR when she says she wants/needs something new and we need to check if this is correct…(know what I mean?)

Watch me declutter my teenage daughter’s wardrobe and have a real conversation with my kids, and husband, about minimalism.


Now, my kids have SOME understanding of minimalism (I think), but I
don’t know that they have adopted it for themselves.

The truth is, if they were given more money to spend on clothing, they would definitely buy more so that says it all. They don’t follow minimalism themselves, BUT, they have to anyways.

Because I’m their mum and they live in this house and I pay their bills, that’s the way it is.

But I wanted to show you how we make it work because Im certainly no authoritarian. But the fact is it’s still our home.

As they have grown obviously their opinions, preferences and personalities have become more developed…

So how does it work now?

I’m trying desperately to teach them about things and I definitely don’t want to sour the well of simple living.

So today I’m sharing a video about how we talk about minimalism in our family and how I make it all happen simply (as you will see) without them even realising that’s what I’m doing!

They’re great people, my kids, super proud of them. Hopefully, you can judge them kindly by there willingness to share so openly and confidently with you, for me…their crazy minimalist mum!

A lot of what I do is automatic but maybe not for them if they weren’t living here? I still hope that some of the principles will have rubbed off on them that they will continue doing some when they eventually leave home and start managing their own belongings and finances.

They have some of their own money and they buy their own things sometimes, but they still need finance for 90% of their wardrobe and accessories (shoes, jackets etc)

What we do instead is enforce a strategy that keeps it manageable and takes all the fight out of our decision making when it comes to clothing.


Minimalism began for me because I was burnt out keeping up with everything we thought we needed and had to have. Buying and building housing, education, travel, belongings.

We were physically and financially sick, and we were so so tired of how we were living, I quite literally burnt out and something had to change.

We came across information about reducing debt and decluttering and took drastic measures in order to pare back on what we considered to be ‘essential must-haves’ and took a long hard look at what we really needed in life. Lots of things had to change and thankfully it did.


And today, years later, our belief still remains the same. NOTHING has changed!

They were pretty young then, possibly had no idea the stress we were under as a family and the changes that happened around them. I am grateful for that but I do want to teach them what I learned in the hope to spare them the same pain.

I am still 100% committed to the cause of living a life within my resources and I plan on teaching my kids to do the same.

But I can do that no matter how many items of clothing or belongings they own. Whether my daughter owns 10 pairs of jeans or 2, it doesn’t matter.

We began simplifying and reducing clutter, both physically and mentally because we were overspending in time, money and energy and money.

So, when my kids want something or want to do something, all I need to do in order to teach my children now is ask ONE QUESTION.

The question I ask is: Can you afford it? It’s also the same question I ask myself!

This question is the bottom line of every want, need or desire we have as a family.

Because that’s how we got into trouble. Buying things we do not have the money for.

Doing things we did not have the time or energy for.

We avoided pain in those moments to delay it for later…but it eventually bit us hard.

I don’t want this for my kids, of course, it may happen, but I would like to teach them that they have a choice.


And the only way I could teach them this value was giving them money!

Yep, letting them have free reign over their spending now.

It is an allowance really, money promised and given freely to spend on whatever clothing they want or need.

The catch is, they only have that amount from us. No matter what.

Putting them on a spending allowance for clothing and making them stick to it.

I don’t mind them trying to keep up with fashion expectations but not if they can’t afford it.

We changed the focus of our energy from keeping the clothing minimal to
maintaining a budget we could afford and teaching them how to live within


As you will see in this video we have different personalities in our children, my daughter loves to shop and would love to shop more and my son doesn’t care for it but knows it needs to be done.

How it works in our family, the one who likes to shop will ask for something and thats my cue to declutter her clothing with her. Its become what we do.

It’s a great opportunity for me to ask her about what she bought last time that wasn’t useful or what needs to be bought in the next shopping trip.

We also chat about what money she has left in her allowance and maybe talk about selling old clothes to find some more cash if she needs extra money to buy what she has in mind.

About that time it will mean I need to look into whether my son needs something…he definitely asks to shop less, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want or need things. He just doesn’t like shopping.

He isn’t hard on his clothing so it doesn’t wear out – he usually grows out of it. I think that he doesn’t want to look silly and that’s often the motivation for his clothes shopping.

He very rarely has issues with wanting to overspend on clothing. It’s often the other way around in that there is money and he needs to spend it…or his sister will 🙂


1. Be together in the same room with all the clothing

You cannot do this without them, they must be there otherwise your just tidying their room for them! We don’t want that anymore, they have to be 100% involved.

Find a time to get it done – it really only takes 10 minutes!

Either one of you can hold up an item but the person who has to wear gets to choose.

Touch each garment and decide, Yes or No. Don’t argue – just let them decide.

I know it can be REALLY hard to take when they want to get rid of something that’s perfectly fine – but honestly, if they aren’t wearing it anyway, whats’ the point in keeping it.

If something doesn’t fit right or they don’t like it, they won’t ever wear it.

(We know what that’s like right!)

Hopefully they will regret whatever they bought that didn’t work and choose better next time!

2. Be sure to go through every hanger, cupboard and drawer

Don’t leave anything out, even if you think it’s a few items in a drawer.

Those items are what causes a lot of stress when you think they have clothing but it’s not actually clothing they want to wear.

Touch every item, look at it and decide.

Keep, rubbish or giveaway?

3. What’s remaining? What do they need to get next?

What clothing is left for them to wear?

Do they have enough of the essential items? Underwear, socks etc.

Do they have enough clothing for the season ahead?

What do they need? What do they want?

Have a chat about their allowance and what money they have left and what they might be able to afford? Are they going to be able to purchase what they want to?

4. All remaining items are put away nicely

They need to put their own clothing away because they need to know where everything is.

Most of their clothing might be out of their drawers. No problem, every single item that remains they want to keep so they will find a home for it.

They may not keep their clothing as tidy as you do but it doesn’t really matter, you both know what’s there now even if it’s a little messy.

5. Clothes no longer wanted need to be discarded, sold or given away

It’s really important to action these items right away.

Ask them if there are any items of great value that might be sold for money?

See if they are willing to try sell it or if they would rather you do it? Decide.

Gather what needs to be given away and make sure its gone from the house ASAP, at least in the boot of the car so it’s not hanging around.


We absolutely make sure they have enough for the essentials, like
underwear, socks and school uniforms, shoes, jackets etc.

These items are not included in their allowance otherwise it’s too difficult for them to afford everything they needed to.

There uniforms and shoes are expensive at times and also non-negotiable so it makes sense to afford that BEFORE we allocate the clothing allowance.


  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Thermals
  • Winter jacket
  • Wet weather gear
  • Swimming gear
  • Sports Uniform (if applicable)
  • School Uniform (if applicable)
  • School shoes

There are some items that can get very expensive depending on what they prefer to wear. Swimming togs for example that they need for school, if they want something more expensive that’s beyond what you are willing to pay – make sure they cover half the cost with their allowance.

The same goes for jackets, shoes etc. You can pay within reason but anything ‘extra’ needs a contribution from them.


Giving them a set dollar value each year and making them stick to it has
taught them some valuable lessons.

  • When the money is gone, it’s gone. Money is a limited resource and this is a life principle! Don’t be afraid to let them learn this.
  • They learn to shop for sales and find cheaper items. It’s amazing what they become willing to get a deal on that they wouldn’t have considered before. Signs that say ‘2 for 1’ or ‘Half Price’ become interesting to them all of a sudden.
  • They will more carefully decide what they will buy with their money. It only takes a few bad buys for them to double check. Does it really fit? Do they really want it? They might even want to go away and think about it before they buy it.
  • They’re so excited to receive any extra money (birthdays, Christmas etc), they become so thankful and appreciative to grandparents and other freinds and family for gifting them money. They may have been grateful before but even more so now.
  • They learn how expensive things can be. When they see a price tag theynow know if that is expensive or not.
  • They realise that a lot of money still doesn’t last very long. Once again, realising that money is a limited resource and will ventually run out.
  • They figure out that they may need to work for extra money. If they don’t have enough for what they want they develop a desire to earn more. They become keen to work.
  • They learn to manage a budget. Inevitable and essential for life. A valuable skill to have learned.


It depends on the season but in all honesty that doesn’t always matter for a teenager.

They will generally wear winter clothes in winter and summer items in the summer time – but not always…fashion doesn’t make sense ALL the time.

Again, I truly believe that they have to make some of their own decisions and make some mistakes along the way to learn how to make better choices.

If you can handle it, let them wear the same thing all winter or run out of money to buy new clothes in the summer because they ran out of money.

So what if they spent their winter allowance on one pair of jeans and only have two sweaters for the entire winter, you know they have a winter coat and thermals…they will survive!

Who cares if they only have 2 dresses for their full summer wardrobe, oh well, they will earn how to wash their clothes every other day of the week.

It’s not going to kill them to go with a little less and it’s a valuable lesson to learn.


Heaps actually.

Firstly, to make sure they have the money to spend and that they stick to that budget.

Secondly, making sure their room is picked up from time to time. Like most parents.

I do want them to look after their things so that is the value we always try to encourage.

They do a lot of the laundry, they’re involved in putting it on or hanging it out but especially, folding it and putting it away.

Lastly, is keeping on having the conversation about need vs to want. Sometimes though, they’re just going to have to learn this themselves as they go.

I always expect them to try and have a semi-reasonable conversation about the
philosophy of it all. Talking about debt and savings is often a part of our discussions.